The coronavirus pandemic has had a lasting impact on communities around the world. Whether you lost friends and relatives, needed to get used to home-schooling the kids, or developed a serious habit of binge-watching your favorite shows on streaming services, most of us have pandemic stories to tell.
One of the most noticeable, lasting impacts on our lives has been the dramatic change in the way we work. From being forced to work from home at short notice, many professionals have come to embrace hybrid working. Others are taking things further by becoming digital nomads and working from anywhere they would like to live.
In this article, we look at 2023’s remote working trends and where digital nomads are headed this year.
2023 Trends in Remote Working
Three of the key trends in remote working in 2023 include:
- Hybrid work models
- Focus on flexibility and employee wellness
- Increasing reliance on technology
1. Hybrid Work Models
Looking at remote working overall and leaving digital nomads aside for the moment, it becomes clear that hybrid working is becoming the dominant work model for many companies. Hybrid working allows employees to split their working hours between their offices and their homes.
Employers benefit by saving on office space while still facilitating face-to-face collaboration between their teams. Employees are able to reclaim more time in their day by not needing to commute to work every day and being able to balance their careers with their families and other interests.
2. Focus on Flexibility and Employee Wellness
As many industries continue to face labor shortages, employers have recognized the need to retain key staff. Retaining employees no longer hinges only on providing attractive salaries.
Many professionals are deliberately looking for the flexibility of hybrid or remote work. For some, that means choosing the weekdays on which they travel to the office. For others, flexibility needs to reach further and include the choice to dial in from a different time zone.
Changing the focus of compensation from a monetary-based model to an alternative that takes employee wellness into account requires a mindset shift by employers. This shift may disrupt in the short term, but it will lead to higher retention rates over time.
3. Increasing Reliance on Technology
Can we rely even more on technology? Remote workers today rely on technology differently compared to 2020. During the first year of the pandemic, shaky Zoom connections may have been acceptable. In 2023, remote workers demand more, and their employers as well as clients expect a smoother, more streamlined setup.
As a result, remote workers rely on smarter, more powerful technology. As remote work continues to grow, this reliance is likely to increase also.
Popular Destinations for Digital Nomads
Mention digital nomads and many people have an image of a person sitting by the sea with a laptop open in front of them in their head. Those digital nomads exist, and surveys have shown that Asian destinations are a favorite for them.
According to an MBO study quoted by Business Insider, there are just under 17 million American digital nomads living around the world right now. That is just under half of the 35 million Americans estimated to be working remotely.
Asian destinations like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are regularly mentioned as digital nomad favorites. However, European cities are starting to top those rankings. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, recently topped a survey community site Digital Nomads, listing favorite nomad places to work. Vienna, Austria, came top of a similar survey done by Conde Nast Traveler.
What makes a city a good place for digital nomads? There are usually a few aspects coming together, including:
- Manageable cost of living
- High-speed internet
- Nomad-friendly visas
- A great lifestyle
- A digital nomad community
But not every remote worker wants to leave the U.S. Many are choosing to move within the country to find a more desirable place to live. States like Florida have long seen growth from digital nomad moves. But less likely places like Boise, Idaho have also seen an influx in residents, according to U.S. Census data.
Balancing Work and Self-Care as a Digital Nomad
It is easy to think of digital nomads as people working for an hour or two a day and spending the rest of their time on the beach. For most, this scenario is far from the imagination.
Some digital nomads are employed in relatively low-paid jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Others may find that they’re working long hours simply because no colleagues are leaving the office and prompting them to do the same. Those who have moved abroad or across the country may find themselves without access to their usual support network.
Making time for self-care is essential for maintaining a healthy digital nomad or remote work lifestyle, whether someone is working abroad or within the U.S. Taking regular breaks is one of the mainstays of self-care as is making time for exercise and other activities to recharge your mind.
Staying in touch with team members and other remote workers can help mitigate feelings of excessive loneliness, too. Remote workers need to take a proactive approach to self-care.
Remote Work Challenges and Future Outlook
Effective communications and collaboration remain among the main challenges of remote workers. This is most pronounced in jobs that require teamwork. In many of those positions, employers no longer encourage remote work but instead offer hybrid work models.
Digital nomads living abroad also need to navigate the excitement and the pitfalls of living in a different culture and not having access to their usual creature comforts.
Despite those challenges, it is obvious that flexible working patterns are here to stay, especially in knowledge-focused industries. Many professionals in those sectors currently have a choice of job options available. As a result, employers need to be prepared to offer flexible working options in 2023 and beyond.